If you're drinking a lot of coffee, you've probably noticed that the grounds add up quickly. While K-Cups might be difficult to recycle, coffee grounds are a different story. Those used grounds are very easy to recycle or reuse, and have some creative uses that just might surprise you. There are plenty of possibilities beyond composting!
Treat Your Soil
For one thing, plants and coffee go quite well together. Coffee also indirectly aerates soil, since worms love the stuff. Mixing coffee grounds into your soil has a number of benefits. Some plants, like carrots, radishes and hydrangeas, love coffee. Anything else that requires acidic soil will also benefit, and plants also thrive on the nitrogen released by the grounds. Snails, slugs, ants and cats will all give areas treated with coffee a wide berth. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the same effect on your neighbor's questionable lawn decor.
Clean with Coffee
As a mild abrasive, coffee grounds are handy at getting caked-on or baked-on food off your pots, pans and dishes. Used with a bit of dish detergent and a little elbow grease, they're great for cleaning off layers of gunk. Those grounds can also be useful in cleaning your fireplace since damp grounds cause ashes to clump and suppress dust, making fireplace cleanup easier.
What's even more surprising is that if you combine Vitamin E oil, coconut oil or shea butter with used coffee grounds, you've also got a gentle exfoliant for dry skin. As an added bonus, since caffeine absorbs through the skin, many people report feeling a bit of a lift from their scrub. Combine grounds with a gentle liquid soap, or even with olive oil, for an effective hand scrub that's more gentle on your hands than the harsh cleansers and abrasives found in Lava Soap and other soaps typically popular with mechanics and others who get their hands dirty for a living. Coffee also cuts down on the stink left behind after cutting onions or garlic.
A bowl of used grounds put in your refrigerator or freezer is just as effective as baking soda at absorbing food odors. You can also put coffee grounds in a sachet, fine mesh bag, or pantyhose and hang it in your car to get rid of lingering odors.Putting coffee grounds in your ash tray doesn't just promote safety (the dampness keeps butts and embers from sparking fires). It also helps your ashtray smell a bit less like an ashtray. And let's face it, since coffee and cigarettes go together like... well, coffee and cigarettes, you've probably got plenty of grinds left over from the one habit to help cover up the smell from the other.
Perk Up Your Hair
I'd try this myself if I had much hair to speak of, but mixing coffee grounds with your hair conditioner helps nourish your hair and may actually help to promote hair growth. We hasten to add, however, that coffee can act a bit like a hair dye, so if you've got blonde or gray hair, you may want to skip this particular tip.
Craft papers don't come cheap, but with a mix of coffee grounds, warm water and patience, you've got a foolproof recipe for making your own antiqued papers. Tip: use heavier papers with a higher rag content, since it's less prone to disintegrate with a short soak. Coffee can also be used as a watercolor paint. And if you have small scratches on furniture that's got a dark finish, swabbing wet grounds onto the problem area can help conceal the scratches (we'd suggest testing in an inconspicuous area before tackling more visible scratches).
We've seen other uses for used coffee grounds, from the useful (mix coffee with rock salt to give yourself a bit of extra traction in the winter) to the questionable (a tanning aid) to the downright ludicrous (getting rid of cellulite). What are some of your favorites? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
Unsurprisingly, Buzzfeed has a list of things you can do with your coffee grounds: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/amazing-things-you-can-do-with-coffee-grounds#.yxoBWBP94